The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Building a OO Gauge FM H16-66 Diesel, Part II


Back in 2010 I started in toward completing a project started by Bill Johann, that of converting an Athearn HO Trainmaster diesel into an OO scale H16-66 diesel. He described it in an “extra issue” of The OO Road in 1993, and in part one I outlined the general project and how elements of the large HO model translated perfectly to OO as the slightly more compact “baby Trainmaster.”

Fast forward to today and I am pretty excited about how the H16-66 project came out. The big picture details came out great and it has exceeded expectations on several levels.

My fear was that with all the effort to make this model it would not be effective, as the badly damaged conversion that had been done by David Sacks clearly looked to me like an HO model on OO trucks. The fear was unfounded; this model has the visual heft of a full scale OO model. In the Part I article scroll down to see it before painting and for other details of the conversion. It really looks quite good, two key "big picture" details being correct make the model pop. Those details being the hoods are the correct height and width, and from the side the major details such as the frame height and cab size are dead on correct for OO. The cab in particular I credit with making the biggest single visual difference over the old Sacks conversion, as he kept the original HO cab on his model.

The result is that this model does not at all look like a miniature, under scale model, and it looks great sandwiched between a Kemtron GP-7 and a Schorr F-3, as seen in these photos. The pairing with the Schorr F-3 has been particularly effective. Both have flywheels and the F3 of choice has a big can motor. The pair runs and pulls great on the layout. One test was assembling a train of thirteen die cast S-C and Lionel cars, a very heavy train and no problems pulling them around. The F-3 is a very heavy bronze casting (more on this Schorr F-3 model here) and the H16-66 has extra weights added and 12 wheel drive. The pair has much more pulling power than anything I have ran previously and the pair will crawl around the layout beautifully together. [The Kemton GP-7 in the first photo is described in this article.]

A quote from a very recent Tony Koester "Trains of Thought" column in Model Railroader (September, 2012) in regard to locomotive conversions comes to mind regarding this FM diesel; “…then it will at least temporarily assume the role of ‘New Best Friend.’” For now it is a favorite model, and I believe I will run this engine quite a bit in the coming years.

With this project out of the way, I have all the parts I need to make two examples of another project laid out by Bill Johann in that same extra issue of The OO Road, an EMD SD-40 prototype. When time allows I will start in on that. The biggest challenge will be the cab, but if I can get that looking right the rest of the model should fall into place.

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